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Canada: Toyota eyes expansion of Ontario plants

Toyota Motor Corp.’s (TM-N83.32-0.33-0.39%) two assembly plants in Ontario are well-positioned to win new investments as the auto maker looks for ways to boost production in North America to offset the surge in the value of the yen that is wreaking havoc on its financial results.

Japan’s largest auto maker is examining a number of options, including producing its Prius hybrid models in North America for the first time and boosting production of Lexus models in Canada, Yoshimi Inaba, president of Toyota Motor North America, told reporters Thursday in Toronto.

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An investment at either Toyota plant in Cambridge, Ont., or Woodstock, Ont., would be a boost for the sector in Canada, which is facing the pressure of a rising Canadian dollar and whose leaders will be told by a consultant today that the industry’s competitive position here is deteriorating.

Using North American plants to assemble the Prius, which started with a sedan but now includes a small minivan, a so-called city car and plug-in electric models, is “almost like – to me – a no brainer,” Mr. Inaba said during a lunch at the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto. He said he’s pushing for a decision as soon as possible on whether to do that, and where.


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